Friday, November 21, 2008

Computer tips: file opening dialog

Many times I've been bothered when opening files in MS-Office: I'll seek to open a recently-used file and rather than guess at its name with alphabetic access, I go to view details, date (sort descending). My problem has been the small dialog box, the need to move everything to the right to find the date tab (thus losing sight of the filenames), and the need to hit date perhaps a few times to find descending (subfolders further confuse all of this). I've thought: "there's probably a better way..." but because the file editing regularly has taken precedence, only now the solution is at hand.

Give up on bloody computers? No.

First, the assorted tabs showing file details are all useful to some extent, but the name & date are typically most critical. The date column can be dragged to the left so it becomes the second column. Neat! I've read that pushing Ctrl key on closing a dialog box saves the settings. Nice! To get default view with Details, go to Desktop (first close all windows) open My Computer and set the View to Details (or other desired setting or sort layout). Then click Tools - Folder Options - View and click "Apply to all folders" Click OK and the world is slightly better. Use the energy saved (& unmanifested angst) being friendlier & helpful to others.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Can one be a reformer or crusader in the USA? Is it really possible to "work for the people" and the public interest?


But when "change" begins to curtail profitable operations by the mighty & the powerful, they fight back. They may have billions of dollars (oops - post bailout: hundreds of billions) in wealth to throw at their critics. So no surprise when the forces of change choose very carefully among many sacks of shit, which ones to clean up.

Even then, the crusader is liable to be burned.

The public is hungry for scandal. A mob mentality is stoked by smarmy weasels such as Billow (Bill O'Reilly), Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and a nest of others. Their vile & polarizing attack approach is popular: akin to pro-wrestling and a substitute for as yet untelevised public executions.

The mob enjoys watching those with hubris get their comeuppance. So a quick goodbye to "evildoers" such as former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, former Senator John Edwards, and a host of others due to sexual fiendishness. (Digression: We wonder how the family values crowd reconciles the adulteries & callousness of Sen. John McCain and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Is foregiveness and reconciliation only for Republicans?... )

Anyhow, the moral takedown may appease the mob for awhile, but who benefits? (In the case of Spitzer, perhaps AIG?) Whose territory is once again open for plundering? That entitled elite seeks darkness. Only systematic and sustained transparency can root-out such problems. Shining a spotlight cannot be enough: the person holding it is a target, and the roaches escape. We need to turn-up all the house lights to systematically root-out the worst social infections.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


"Let's avoid partisanship"

The US Republican Party & the failed policies of George W. Bush were thrashed at the polls. Now the talk from jackbooted right-wingnuts seems reasonable "We pray President Obama will govern responsibly and avoid divisiveness..."

Watch again the Republican National Convention speeches in Minneapolis Saint Paul. Inside the hall, a goon parade mocked, ridiculed & slandered their Democratic opposition; outside, their hired thugs beat-up on peaceful assemblies.

(Remember "Friendly Joe" Lieberman as a key part of these celebrations).

Disrespect for law & people has continued too long; true terror.

Don't be taken in.
"Cute little snake, it's not dangerous anymore.
... aarrghh - fuckin' thing bit me!"

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Common Dreams & Memes

I've multiple important bases in my life, so each day I read news articles from assorted places around the world. Via the wonders of the internet I check local news of Hawaii via, local news of Sweden from Swedish newspapers and The Local, Korean news from The Korea Herald (and elsewhere), news of Japan via assorted bulletin boards & feeds such as J@pan Inc and "The Community" in Japan, news of the Middle East from Haaretz and sometimes Al Jazeera. I check news of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, science news from New Scientist, plus technology & finance news from here, there, and everywhere.

As if that were not enough, there's the need to keep up with assorted hobby-related news & auctions, and of course professional reports & journals. I often write in my own Pretrend blog ( and earn a living by decent work...

And be with loved ones. And simply live.

But every day I also read Common Dreams - an amalgam of "progressive" articles from various sources. It is great: combining stories, reprints, links and comments on political economy sure to get my blood racing.

A recent article by Tom Engelhardt ("Foreclosed: The George W. Bush Story") looked critically at the
legacy of the Bush administration. It included a provocative quote from a 2004 article by Ron Suskind, "Without a Doubt" (New YorkTimes; published also as "Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush") - where "history's actors" who "create our own reality" mock the careful "reality-based community" who follow behind attempting judicious study of what's been done. This hubris is the voice of The True Believer: "we create our own reality" and evade the dreaded u-word: uncertainty.

A related article elsewhere by
Christian Salmon, "Scheherazade in the White House" follows-up by discussing political stage-management, quoting Prof. Ira Chernus on Karl Rove's Scheherazade-like approach to ruling others: "When policy dooms you, start telling stories -- stories so fabulous, so gripping, so spellbinding that the king (or, in this case, the American citizen who theoretically rules our country) forgets all about a lethal policy."

A "leta" to Common Dreams on US Election Day is commanding:
"Why do people find degrading, defacing, belittlement of a man who was willing to take on the responsibility of the Presidency if elected. What do you gain from the demoralization of the administration. Why is it helpful to tear apart the years served. Is this what you say , talk about in front of your kids. You are their mentors. You should be using Positives Repectful thoughts how else are they going to grow up with the right outlook of politics. It is you who are painting the pictures of people who were elected. Think about it. You vote in dog catchers, local government, church elections. Isn't it time to take a good look at SELF. Let the President leave office ... throwing the keys happily on the desk in the OVAL OFFICE....he has aged during his terms. He deserves your respect. Your children have to hear and see this from YOU "adult citizens of America. GOD BLESS AMERICA." (sic)

The marketing story, or meme, is powerful imagery to shape reality. Those directing government powers, with much money & huge access to media outlets, might do as they wish - eluding comeuppance.

The article by Salmon finishes by reminding us that Karl Rove resigned from government saying "I'm Moby Dick" ... evading reality's deadly harpoon.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Scofflaw Regime / Rogue State

Citizens of the USA, even those who often disagree with the government, do not typically recognize they live in a rogue state. But the Bush government has regularly broken international laws. They also have undermined and ridiculed the importance of international laws and covenants, which in fact are national laws - a clear and fundamental point from the US Constitution (article VI, paragraph 2) which they've sworn to uphold.

The Presidential Oath of Office, which officially begins the presidency, is short and clear: ''I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.''

This pledge is important. Just 35 words forms the basis for leadership.

National leadership of a great country; the actions of the USA have global consequences.

Legal basis for operations is important. George W. Bush disregarded law, perhaps following advice from others - he's been fundamentally misguided.

The Bush government, through unilateral decisions to ignore law and precedent and due process, has severely undermined the safety and security of all US citizens, our global investments, and our freedoms to interact with peoples of the world.

The indictment of crimes is extensive. Some bother me more than others. Invasion and continued occupation of Iraq. Long-term confinement and torture of people not promptly charged with crime. Terrible.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Yes Virginia: Thomson Reuters sues Zotero

An entrenched company, threatened by open-source free software, snaps back with a multi-million dollar lawsuit. Is this a storm in a teacup?

Thomson Reuters naturally wishes maximal profits from their proprietary programs, but... details of this lawsuit can be found here. A few marketing observations: the Thomson Reuters lawsuit draws attention to their nimble competitor. Seeking legal limits on what scholars can do with their own data, they risk seriously alienating their users.

Many users have invested time & resources in old Endnote software, but I'm no fan. Data storage always seemed unnecessarily obscure to me. The owners seemed to treat their software system protection as more important than my data - but I'm the customer. Why pay for deliberate confusion?

Even if Thomson Reuters win some damages with this case, they've chosen the Luddite path and can expect to be pityingly mocked by a growing segment of users & opinion leaders. I expect that the route they've chosen will cost them much more dearly than if they'd ignored their Zotero competition ( - the scholars friend). Thomson Reuters instead should work hard at innovation.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Don't Waste Your Vote

I admire Ralph Nader. A little bit. I've never voted for him, and I would not. What I see as his biggest weakness is an inability to effectively forge coalitions. Why is he a perennial Presidential candidate? Why not seek to join others, and upgrade a local, state, or national platform? If he can't work well with others, he shouldn't be trying to run the country, because he can't do it alone. It is sometimes useful to snipe from the sidelines, but running for President is perhaps a poor vehicle for such a person's energies.

I'm also disappointed with both Nader and McCain for not understanding / recognizing the benefits of computers and the internet. I'm OK with slow food and walking to work, or people limiting their mobile phone usage. But access to the World Wide Web is great - those who don't understand it are missing a lot.

Nader's weaknesses

McCain's weaknesses and more here on McCain handicaps

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sachs of Wealth, but Voracious

Loan servicing "help"
Consolidate your troubles
Dumb small-fry / shark food

Thursday, October 16, 2008

No welcome Nippon!

Japan's Asahi newspaper recently reported the results of a Ministry of Internal Affairs government survey that found 38% of Japanese inns and hotels reported no foreign guests in 2007, and of those, 72% hoped no foreigners would come (thus 27% of the total). Multiple reasons were elicited for shunning foreign guests: "no expertise with foreign languages" (76%); "unsuitable facilities for foreigners" (72%); "uncertainty if a problem were to arise" (63%). The report was published a week after the newly-founded Japan Tourism Agency began promoting a Visit Japan Campaign to raise the number of international visitors from 8.35 million for 2007 to 20 million by 2020 (and 10 million by 2010).

Asahi (2008) "National Survey 2007: 30% of hotels & ryokan don't want foreign lodgers." (9 Oct 2008; in Japanese) 朝日新聞社. (2008) "「外国人泊めたくない」ホテル・旅館3割 07年国調査" (朝日新聞社).

What If?

The financial meltdown is trashing the legacy of the Bush Presidency. A lot of people are finding: "Golly, they sure were wrong with their economic policies and oversight."

Diverse citizens are confronted with misperforming products, and think "Damn! It's all wrong, but consumer protection's been gutted. They got my money -- I'm left with the trash."

Many people are also starting to recognize: "Gee - maybe our government was also wrong in leading the USA into war in Iraq... perhaps those nations that wouldn't participate weren't simply cowards..."

Some Americans are just now beginning to wonder: "Maybe our leaders have been wrong in torturing and imprisoning so many people for years without proper review or trial..."

A few Americans believe these are not problems of error; they are deliberate crimes.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Down but Not Out

You've seen the movie:
Demonic creep is injured
Hero feels relief

Don't relax so soon!
Evil will attack your back!
Prepare to get bit...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Myku by Genki

Failed politicians...
Bankers in Treasury jobs...
Pick market winners

Housecleaning ignored
Gamblers keep their pay & jobs
Financial flim-flam!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Opinion Leaders or "Fringe People?"

The Washington Post reports: "Maryland State Police classified 53 nonviolent activists as terrorists and entered their names and personal information into state and federal databases that track terrorism suspects..." State Police Superintendent Terrence B. Sheridan, speaking of the program operated by his predecessor, told the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee: "The names don't belong in there... It's as simple as that."

How bad is it to be labeled a troublemaker, or a terrorist?
It ain't good.

"The former state police superintendent who authorized the operation, Thomas E. Hutchins... said the program was a bulwark against potential violence and called the activists "fringe people.""

It is horribly wrong to label those working peacefully for a better society as terrorists. This seems a solid step toward cleansing the community of people questioning authority.

Remember past tyranny (or risk a repeat!):

When the USSR occupied eastern Poland in 1939, they took prisoner many local leaders, military officers and cultural people. In March of 1940 they decided to summarily execute 22,000 of these people in secret (memorialized as the Katyn massacres, after the first burial site discovered). The goal was to purge the region of potentially-troublesome future leaders / enemies.

When the Japanese occupied Malaya - Singapore in 1942, they tried to purge the region of "undesirables" -- community leaders featured on prepared lists of hundreds of people rounded-up and murdered (Sook Ching killings).

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Citi Blues

The FDIC brokered Citigroup a sweet deal for Wachovia last Monday, but on Friday Wells Fargo jumped in with an agreement some seven times bigger. It's a good lesson that values change day to day (in a few days $2.2 billion became $15.1 billion). But the lesson is much more complex.

This was the first time the FDIC (Federal Depositors Insurance Corporation) used official fiat power to demand such a sale. A thus-far unused 1991 law required the concurrence of the FDIC, the Federal Reserve, and the Secretary of the Treasury in consultation with the US President; the US government forced Wachovia's sale to Citigroup.

The plan provided government bailout money for Citigroup losses above a certain limit. It provided a foundation for Wachovia to survive the week, and subsequently to find a sweeter deal.

Wachovia is the 4th biggest financial group in the USA. Why should government be ordering their sale to a rival? Exactly who in the government was the driver for this plan? At this moment it's unclear, but they've egg on their face(s).

(CEO Bob Steel joined Wachovia from the US Treasury Department last July; he & Treasury Secretary Paulson earlier were colleagues at Goldman Sachs; now reportedly Secretary Paulson subsequently is recusing himself from further involvement).

Government interference at this level is worse than confiscation - they forced a transfer, perhaps to cronies, with no transparency and at a value far below what the market clearly could offer.

Perhaps Citigroup is victimized as well. Already Citigroup reportedly is claiming $60 billion in damages. What a week's work! (thus financiers are under criticism)...

This is a lesson that politicos shouldn't be allowed to mess with individual firms.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Why Help the Flawed Bailout?

Why were Democrats so eager to help Bush and the bigwigs of finance with $700 billion dollars in bailout assistance? Much is wrong with the new act, and with the people who'll implement it. What's happening?

The original plan can best be remembered as Treasury Secretary Paulson's supreme act of chutzpah -- "give me the money; hurry up; forbid in advance any review of what I'll do."

This was not Mother Theresa asking for alms. Paulson is an extremely wealthy financier whose former firm (Goldman Sachs) is poised to benefit greatly from bailout funding and a revised rulebook. It's a cozy deal too much like the government insider relationship of VP Cheney & Halliburton...

I'd call Paulson a weasel and partly responsible for the financial mess and bad economy, but it's foolhardy to rile a dude with hundreds of billions of dollars in his pocket...

These economic troubles are foremost an indictment of the poor governance of President George W. Bush and his minions. Senator Obama's presidential campaign has been strengthened. So why the hurry among Democrats to assist the President? Why bailout Bush & the Republicans so near the election? Why not let him sink in his own excrement?

The Democrats use the word "bipartisan" and speak of helping America. I wonder if they are simply shortsighted: too-kindly fools who let the monster live (surely it thus will rise again).

It is tempting as well to imagine these politicians are corrupt, and that the rich financiers will fashion them a future payback. But truly I don't believe this is the main driver.

Perhaps the prospect of inheriting a greatly-damaged economy is too dire. Perhaps they are seriously concerned about the exposure of the most disadvantaged citizens (though they could help directly, instead of persisting with 'trickle down' schemes).

Perhaps they look forward to replacing Paulson with their own Treasury Secretary (a brief 108 days from now) and inheriting these new powers.

Perhaps "key allies" elsewhere are being fueled.

Perhaps Democrats don't like the plan, but figure some good will come of it (the revised act included $150 billion of assorted sweeteners), and anyhow it ain't their personal money.

Perhaps politicians fancy themselves financially astute. But top financiers have created an ungainly house-of-cards; it's now already falling apart.

Perhaps thus none of this will work -- they've simply wasted huge funds and made the nation weaker.

Perhaps they've been outmaneuvered strategically...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

House Resolution 3997

The U.S. House of Representatives defeated H.R.3997 on Monday, 29 Sept. 2008 by a vote of 205-228 under Roll Call 674. The (claimed-to-be "bipartisan") resolution would have pumped $700 billion of citizen's money to those same bankers and financiers who caused the ongoing credit crunch.

Looking into the actual text of the bill, what did I find? The cagey politicians threw a basket of bric-a-brac around the guts of their proposal. Citizens might be surprised to read the first lines: "BILL TITLE: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide earnings assistance and tax relief to members of the uniformed services, volunteer firefighters, and Peace Corps volunteers, and for other purposes" What the hell is this?

The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, as far as I can see, was thrown together with a bunch of other gunk. While seeking to spend a huge amount of taxpayer money to bailout the banks, officially they voted on the "Defenders of Freedom Tax Relief Act of 2007." Couldn't such a momentous effort have been better managed? This is a very shady Congress and not forthright.

From the Congressional Record Daily Digest for 29th September:
"Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008: The House failed to agree to the Senate amendment to the House amendment to the Senate amendment with an amendment made in order by the rule and printed in H. Rept. 110–903, to H.R. 3997, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide earnings assistance and tax relief to members of the uniformed services, volunteer firefighters, and Peace Corps volunteers, by a recorded vote of 205 ayes to 228 noes, Roll No. 674."
Pages H10334–35, H10337–H10411

Yes (no?), that is: "...failed to agree to the Senate amendment to the House amendment to the Senate amendment with an amendment made in order by the amend..." Of course a typical person would just love to throw these bums out.

Reading the Congressional Record (which ain't easy) and as far as I can tell: Rep. Gohmert tried to adjourn the House at about 9:10 AM, it went to a vote and was defeated 8-394 (three Reps. after voting for holiday changed their votes to no; see page H10336). This was followed by reading H.R.3997 which talked of Peace Corps benefits, leaky underground storage tanks (SEC. 6430), parity in application of certain limits to mental health benefits, and by the way, a $700 billion subsidy to financiers (about $2000 per citizen). Nearly five hours of discussions followed, with highlights including Rep. Broun (R-Georgia): "this is a huge cow patty with a piece of marshmallow stuck in the middle of it, and I'm not going to eat that cow patty." After using all time for debate, an effort was made to declare the motion passed ("the Speaker pro tempore announced that the ayes appeared to have it...). But when a proper vote was demanded, the count was 205-228 and the bill was defeated.

Since the start of his administration nearly eight years ago, President Bush and his VP Cheney have sought to hamstring Congress and other checks on their executive authority, consistently treating all with contempt. The Treasury Secretary echoed this attitude with his original demands for huge rescue funding, which he himself would administer without oversight. Though there were great efforts (notably by Rep. Barney Frank) toward adjusting the demands of the President and his financiers, and toward increased transparency, the bill still failed. Now the real fireworks begin...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

More Myku by Genki

Contempt of Congress!
Both parties ignore our pain
Riches fall to friends

No re-election!
Your bailout hocks our future
Corruption's reward

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Myku by Genki

Heap Big Meltdown Fall
Pale Money-Men Eating Crow

glued to our keyboards
we fund master's large return
wipe away my tears...

no fundamentals
built on threat and warfare's bones
unseen greenbacked chains

they've learned nothing new
"industrial leadership"
merely how to con


young 72 ?
the makeup on John McCain
Elderly tinsel

Friday, September 26, 2008

To Market To Market

--- by Genki

To Market To Market
They chant to the Earth
They'd persist with their chant
But it hurts their net worth

Now they ask for a bailout
(Well in fact, they demand !)
Else destruction is promised
We could never withstand

They've demanded grand fortunes
They'll distribute to chums
While my town and our schools
Are transformed into slums

Section 8 of their wishlist
Bans all legal review
Other agencies' oversight
Would be off-limits too

"To maximize shareholder value..."
Our Republic now shoulders the cost
But profit is private & sacrosanct
To hesitate is to be lost

Our elected officials are cozy
On the great wealth of Wall Street they fawn
They told us the future was rosy
As they slyly deliver the con

The rats scramble up on the gravy train
Some foreign weasels ride too
A feeding frenzy – don’t complain
Big capital’s snafu

When Leaders are Looters...
My God who'd we elect?
When my own bills come due
They'll contrive to collect

Just call me a donkey
An innocent fool
Social Darwinist garbage
Misdirected misrule

It seems dumb I should subsidize
Those So Wrong & So Rich
Yet I'm urged to obey...
Golly - "Ain't life a bitch!"

Fixed Markets, Dirty Insiders

Wall Street spin-meister scum tell lapdog reporters the monster bailout is good for us. Few believe the tall tales; many people are tired of being lied to; most understand America is being looted by the privileged few.

We await a vocal political leader who'll speak strongly against subsidizing big business. Sadly, too many politicians are cozy with the big money players.

The world won't end without this bailout. Why demand prior immunity? -- because this flimflam will unravel. Financial wizards fashioned this crisis; they should lose their jobs, and disgorge accumulated ill-gotten wealth. Hasty decisionmaking rewards the worst people. The Bush government's failed regulatory policies and regressive tax system are also hugely to blame. It's time for change.

Make noise!

Keep government from mortgaging our future to the already rich.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Give Up the Keys, George!

A foolish boy and his nutty friends commandeer a car and drive wildly around. As time goes by, their roughshod ways cause the car to slow & stink - "it's not as nice as before." They want to design & build a new car for themselves & their friends. They demand that others pay, and quickly, or the world will end.

Don't let Congress waste our money on such people!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Emboldened Looters - Major Ripoff

Bush's Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, formerly CEO of Goldman Sachs, is preparing to loot the US Treasury. He wants US$700 billion to spend as he sees fit, without oversight.

The money could be distributed overseas, to prop up anything.

Paulson divested himself of a personal half-billion dollars stake in Goldman Sachs stock when taking his present government job. Bloomberg reported "He was exempted from paying capital gains tax on the sale of those stakes under a rule meant to avoid penalizing wealthy people who take government jobs and are forced to sell assets." The Treasury Secretary job itself pays $191,300 (or $478,250 over his expected 30 month term), but there were thus hundreds of millions of dollars of benefits. Sweet!

Of course, those $100 millions of capital gains taxes thus don't go to the Treasury, but instead are in Paulson's pocket.

Today, wonder of wonders, Paulson's reportedly got a new friend:
"Berkshire Hathaway, the company owned by US investment guru Warren Buffett, has bought ... $5bn of Goldman Sachs preferred stock bearing a 10% annual interest rate. It could increase its holding of Goldman shares as under the terms of the deal, it has the option of buying $5bn of common stock for $115 per share at any time in the next five years." Sweet deal!

Available for Financiers Only!

Beware especially the bailout's proposed Section 8 -- almost unbelievable: "Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency. " Wow! Looters Seek Prior-Immunity. Very bold. But it's a 'big bucks' play...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Double Whammy !

Speculation & lies have driven US finance firms to the brink of disaster. The "financial leaders" and "statesmen" who forced us into the morass are now begging for bailout by common working citizens.

What are these losers (most still in their high-paying jobs) now doing while Bush talks of a bailout costing $800 billion (don't trust low-figure Bush arithmetic)...

The financiers certainly now are doing what they do best -- jigging the system. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley decide to change their legal status and become commercial banks -- the regulators accept their proposal the same day (21 Sept 2008); on a Sunday no less!

Be sure that the weasels are positioning their businesses and themselves personally to gorge maximally from the carnage they devised. Bailout costs are already rising; of course nobody wants to pay, now or ever. We must require any firm accepting public funds to purge all top management and make such failed managers liable to disgorge salaries and benefits already taken.

The big loser = the average mensch. It just ain't right!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Business as Usual = A Bad Business

The increasingly globalized world is always changing. We continuously need to adapt to survive.

Last week our US President suddenly became interventionist in business affairs, with friendly bail-out of major finance, banking and insurance businesses.

This is bad policy for many reasons. First, in most cases the same or wholly similar dipshits will continue to run those businesses. Careless & overpaid executives and regulators whose policies led to systemic problems haven't learned any lessons -- only that the taxpayer can bail them out. They should be forced personally to disgorge salaries, bonuses & profits.

Tycoon bailout without oversight is bad business, too similar to the mistake made by Pres. Ford in pardoning Richard Nixon, drawing a veil over Watergate. As a nation of laws, the full debacle should be presented in open court, with public evidence on record. Otherwise the same errors will reemerge again & again.

Bush & his cronies have fiddled the system from the top, and have driven our nation to near ruin (to justify bailout, they now admit financial ruin is near).

Irresponsible appointments have focused on ideologues, often with bankrupt options. 'Creative accounting' led to poor performance, perhaps inevitably.

Hurricane Katrina's infamous "Brownie" became Undersecretary in the Dept. of Homeland Security after presiding over the decline of the Intl. Arabian Horse Assn. Smashing!

Enron's Thomas E. White became Secretary of the Army (previous CEO of Enron Operations Corp. & Vice Chair of Enron Energy Services). White's responsibility for the Army didn't last two years, but he was in charge during 9/11 and the deadly anthrax attacks. (It's now believed the anthrax poisoner operated from within Fort Detrick, a US Army facility). Lovely...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Govt. Flim-Flam Unravels

The Bush Republican government has been marked by buffoonery & catering to special interests. Assorted chauvinistic crusades around the globe cost untold lives & huge amounts of money, leaving a trail of enmity and destruction.

Lies and foolishness became systematic duplicity: "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job!" as some 1,836 people died, invalids drowned in their hospital beds, etc. Few Americans know that the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina saw over 70 nations send disaster relief teams & aid donations to help New Orleans recover. In some cases the Bush regime first declined help, yet backtracked soon after to beg for assistance. Pitiful hubris.

Deregulation and patronage have led to grand mistrust of government - one more Republican goal achieved.

Priority spending areas = militarism & secrecy.

Now the financial markets are in turmoil, the cost of basic commodities is obscenely high, and most Americans feel less secure than when they elected (and reelected!) George W. Bush and his cronies.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

God's Plan for His Church?

The Roman Catholic Church shuns women as leaders, claiming (in a misdirecting defense) that "the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven are not the ministers but the saints." (Inter Insigniores, 1976; reconfirmed in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, 1994: 'On Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Alone'). But why is female ordination banned? Are women truly incapable of ministering to a congregation or providing pastoral services? Is this proper tradition, ancient lore, or chauvinistic foolishness?

Should non-believers interfere? If reform is rejected here, what of other cases where religion or culture seem to conflict with healthy human lives? For example, what of circumcision? Is it reasonable? (when a child cannot reasonably make a choice). What of female circumcision - otherwise termed genetic mutilation... should cultural tradition trump law and reason? Such arguments could condone human sacrifice!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Hawaii's 1st Jewish Governor on Palin

3 Sept 2008; Haaretz (Israel)
Hawaii's 1st Jewish Governor: Palin More Experienced than Obama
by Natasha Mozgovaya
"Lingle says she has never discussed Israel-related issues with Palin. "But Senator McCain's commitment to Israel is strong and well-known, and I assure your readers that he would not put someone on that ticket who did not have the same feelings. Certainly he has discussed those issues. Governor Palin is a very religious person, and the religious Christians are the greatest supporters of Israel."

According to Lingle, the Republican Party is likely to attract growing numbers of Jewish voters because "the Republicans have a much stronger position on Israel than the Democrats, and that's why I think more people will be seen on the Republican side."

Recent Wars: Vietnam & Elsewhere

In the USA many feel it is injudicious, even treasonous, to criticize the wars now being waged by our brave uniformed men & women. But 35 years ago the USA was engaged in a distant intervention in Southeast Asia. Was the Vietnam war a grave mistake? Don't look to John McCain for a clear answer: he was a war victim, but also an active aggressor (dutifully piloted 23 bombing missions). His father served as Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Command (CINCPAC), in charge of unified US & South Vietnam (RVN) forces; the person responsible operationally for waging the war from 1968-1972. Was the US war in Vietnam a grave mistake? Was it fundamentally wrong? ... a criminal enterprise? Powerful Americans avoid the nasty facts (millions killed directly, continued crippling from landmines & dioxin pollution); if not citing US heroism, they'd like to forget about that war.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Chattering Mice Be Scolded

Too many Americans have become terrorized, but very few are the direct physical victims of terrorist attackers. Instead, they have been belittled and abused by their Republican leadership & megacorporate media into shadows of lost potential. Fearmongering has become the American way, practiced daily by the Bush administration.

John McCain offers more of the same. He sidled up to Bush Co. and now lies with them, bathed in hogwash.

People who should know better are still being misdirected into doubting Barack Obama. I believe that Barack Obama is ready, willing and able to work for a better world. I expect that he can build a strong team of experts and colleagues to bring about positive change. The hemorrhage of the Bush years must be staunched. The Republican Party has led America to a terrible condition. It is time for change. Please America, vote carefully for a better future: with Barack Obama as President of the USA.

Monday, August 25, 2008

So many issues...

25 August 2008; Haaretz (Israel)
As convention kicks off, Democrats say U.S. Jews will overcome fears of Obama
by Natasha Mozgovaya

"..the choice of Senator Joe Biden ... provide(s) a strong boost to Obama support among American Jews. "For Jews he's a mishpucheh," Oregon Senator Ron Wyden said of Biden, using the Yiddish version of the Hebrew word for family. "Biden will help to persuade Jews who are skeptical," New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg told Haaretz. "His support for Israel is widely known. Any skepticism that Obama won't support Israel is wrong, because no president can ignore Israel, it's too important. And the best thing for Israel is a strong America."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

"Sic 'em Billow" (née Bill O’Reilly)

It's an emotional experience seeing Mr. Bill O’Reilly perform on the Fox network. So many descriptive phrases flit to mind: he acts deranged; he's shameless; he’s a wealthy journalistic anarchist; he's a a smarmy wanker. It's frightening that many American people believe & applaud his extreme & dangerous theatrics.

His enemies (oddly) try repeatedly to engage him in rational discussion, though clearly he'll disconnect from such shenanigans.

Simple namecalling ("Bill O'Reilly is an asshole.") won't likely impress him. Turn the other cheek -- he's sure to bite it. But he trades on his good name, and making fun of it as "Billow" is cute and observant: he is a windbag, he likes the short sound bite. The name is soft & lovable as an obnoxious little dog can be. Sic 'em Billow! We love you Billow!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Creative Deception

One nation learns from another. An international epidemic built on lies & deception has been unleashed. Deny and Lie. The euphemism "very tight security" masks oppression. People around the world, bullied by their leaders, curse my country's President.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Yellow-Bellied Lies

Did US administration officials make (numerous) honest errors in deciding to wage war against Iraq and its alleged "weapons of mass destruction"...?


President Bush claimed "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." This was supposedly based on a documented purchasing agreement between the governments of Iraq and Niger. The documents made their way to US Executive Branch officials through unorthodox means, bypassing normal security analysis. The documents were forged. Nobody has been prosecuted (why not?) Among those suggested as being ultimately responsible for the forgeries are agents of the USA, Italy or Israel. We may never know who created them.

We are also expected to believe that the US government was misled into going to war by fabricated intelligence supplied by "Curveball" -- an Iraqi former taxi driver and compulsive liar. Is the US government truly run by such a bunch of idiots, who were fooled into war by mysterious documents and a single con artist? Unlikely!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

SOW - Stop Our War

I'm a US citizen surrounded daily by non-Americans. I'm often asked about the actions of the US government. Being reasonably well-informed (and without access to any inner sanctum), it's easy to analyze and discuss strategy.

I'm put in a more difficult position when asked my feelings about Bush/Cheney & associates. To what extent should I be diplomatic? How can I explain my deep patriotism? How can I best describe deep disapproval of assorted policies and their underlying dog-eat-dog (Social Darwinist) neo-con ideology?

The Bush government claims that its national security actions are for the better interests of the American people, and some believe that; others do not. I'm amazed that tens of millions of American's seem fully to support presidential actions many criticize as extreme and sinister. Ultimately, any government treating too many people with contempt will be replaced.

The Bush/Cheney administration has spent huge sums, and accrued large debts. They have invested heavily in building systems with poor future prospects, while diverting funding from health, education, research and human services that would make life markedly better for many. They have mobilized the American people into waging multiple foreign wars on vague & evolving justifications. These assorted wars continue bloodily, without exit strategies, and with poor accountability. Bush & Co. spokespersons have earned a "doubtful" label and should not be trusted. Stop our wars now...

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Reopen - New Close

by Genki

The crowd became restless
Then picked up the chant
bareass fool
bareass fool

They blamed that kid begun it
And he brilliantly warmed to the press
But I watched her planting seeds
Then scurry off

bareass fool
bareass fool
It all seems kinda funny
But I seen 'em busting heads

I used to serve their Majesties
And the kiss-arse crowd around 'em
Their riches are real; waste unmeasured
Their sneers make one limp

I lurned a bit there; no-doubt affected
But one day far from the city
The smell of earth and air
I seen my life been wasted

We'd each turned out for pageantry
bareass fool
bareass fool
She coulda been talkin' to me

Now I've restarted modestly
bareass fool
She don't want fame.
Slaughterer retired. I'm re-covered.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Bicycle Trip

Dr. Albert Hofmann died today, age 102. He was a pioneer scientist. No doubt he worked with stuff that was dangerous - mainly to the status quo. It seems ludicrous that his research focus became so terribly demonized, while research work merrily continued with napalm, land mines, cluster bombs and depleted uranium. But rather than to link weaponry to Hofmann's work, consider instead a form of complex transport, where incautious operation might be dangerous.

Hofmann remembered deeply euphoric moments of when he was a child. Perhaps many of us have such childhood experiences, but they typically fade from memory. Dr. Hofmann's outlook got a jolt on 16 April 1943, when he he was forced to go home early from work at Sandoz Pharmaceutical laboratories; he felt "a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness. At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After some two hours this condition faded away."

He concluded that somehow he'd accidentally absorbed traces of an ergot-derived chemical material he'd been working on, lysergic acid diethylamide.

A few days later on the 19th April, he experimented on himself. "Exercising extreme caution, I began the planned series of experiments with the smallest quantity that could be expected to produce some effect, considering the activity of the ergot alkaloids known at the time: namely, 0.25 mg" (250 micrograms). Surprise surprise. Forty minutes later he noted in his lab journal: "Beginning dizziness, feeling of anxiety, visual distortions, symptoms of paralysis, desire to laugh." He was unable that day to write more, noting later "the altered perceptions were of the
same type as before, only much more intense. I had to struggle to speak intelligibly. I asked my laboratory assistant, who was informed of the self-experiment, to escort me home. We went by bicycle"...

Over the past 65 years there's been great interest in Dr. Hofmann's bicycle trip home. We can now buy posters and pendants commemorating his experience. Most curious!

I'd take a memorial bike trip in Dr. Hofmann's memory, but haven't the proper equipment (and I'd likely get into trouble here in Seoul).

Albert Hofmann later said such experiences changed his life. He'd been surprised: "I had believed there was only one reality, the reality of everyday life. Just one true reality and the rest was imagination and was not real. But ...I entered into realities which were as real and even more real..." An explicit contrast between imagination and multiple realities? Go figure.

Anyhow Albert went on to do much other important medical work; but long from now he'll be remembered as an important explorer. Being active to age 102 is quite nice too. RIP.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Keith D. Witherell, RIP

A friend from school days passed away last week, a few days shy of 50 years of age. It's a long time since last we met. Seeing his obituary and reading of his life generates sadness, recognizes personal mortality, and builds respect.

Keith Witherell managed living well - gathering friends at work, romping with technology, active widely in theatre & music; he was a caring citizen and neighbor building a dynamic family. ...clearly a person who loved living, who took time to breathe deeply and to smile. A person who brightened his creative space.

Here is a person sadly missed.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

ABC of Checks & Balances for America

The United States of America was founded on key concepts defined by the Constitution and its laws. One of the most important has required checks and balances between the Legislative, Judiciary and the Executive branches of government. In times when America had much less money and resources, time and effort was spent with developing these valuable systems of checks and balances -- because government is doing a job for the people, oversight is important, and because justice is more than a simply a declaration by one asshole, however clever or lovable.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Toyota's Corporate Image

In Japan twenty years ago I worked on a large "Corporate Citizenship" consulting project for Toyota. They took careful note of our extensive findings, and many were adopted. (That was my first such project for a major multinational, and a nice earner!)

Now Toyota is getting into trouble. A recent news article by Haider Rizvi explains: (link) "Toyota is now the world’s largest automaker in terms of net worth, revenue and profits... the company has built its green image around the well-known Prius, [but] hybrid sales tell only a small part of their story. Toyota's reliance on the 14-mile-per-gallon (mpg) Tundra pickup truck and other so-called "gas guzzlers" has held the company’s fleet-wide fuel efficiency down to levels below what they were several decades ago."

Toyota is one of many automakers reportedly lobbying the US government to roll-back plans for stricter fuel efficiency. Toyota is also using its muscle to develop & invest in cleaner energy technologies... Their conundrum as successful market leader is being much more of a target than when simply one of many manufacturers. Toyota needs to effectively position itself as environmentally-friendly, and to follow-through with its marketing. They ultimately direct their own image, as:
or green

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Swiftboating - Scum Tactic Revisited

"I saw a guy with three Purple Hearts and a Silver Cross turned into a weak, wimpy, lying coward, in order to make sure that a weak, wimpy, lying coward who went to Margaritaville instead of the Mekong Delta during the Sixties could be portrayed as some sort of macho tough guy, and thus steal another four years in the White House."
-- Prof. David Michael Green

I know little about the Hon. John Kerry. Yet I believe that partisan mud thrown by Swiftboaters instead stained the military and its commendation system. Yes, attention was deflected from weaknesses in President George W. Bush, but at great cost.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Non-violent = disloyal = fired

Open letter to Cal State East Bay University
Office of the President

Here in far-off South Korea it has come to my attention that employees of California State University East Bay must sign a loyalty oath for employment, and that Marianne Kearney-Brown was recently fired for wishing to make modifications to the text of that oath.

She'd worked successfully for some weeks in her job, and agreed to sign a modified text promising to nonviolently support and defend the U.S. and state Constitutions, but was still fired. The job she was doing was not law enforcement, but teaching remedial mathematics.

Her faith as a Quaker (Society of Friends member) precludes her from taking up arms. She is 50 years old.

Perhaps I do not know the entire story, but the story as repeated here (and around the world) smacks of blind loyalty, foolish bureaucracy, and / or odd censorship. I hope this is a wrongful dismissal that quickly can be rectified.

Incident reported in SF Chronicle:
Cal State East Bay sent me a letter (5 March, in response to agitation) justifying the dismissal.
A few days later, she got her job back!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Teaching Democracy

The USA and its political leadership need a lesson in democracy. Stupidly, many Americans have been led to believe that we can teach democracy to the rest of the world; but practices in the USA are clearly crippled.

The democratic process and voting is a serious thing - the basis for government legitimacy. Anti-democratic efforts should be greatly minimized. There is no reasonable excuse that voters be turned away from polling stations and not allowed to vote. Use of indelible inks and simple video cameras can assure that all eligible are allowed to vote (while those trying to vote multiple times or who are truly ineligible can be found out). It is a more serious issue when political operatives seek to somehow falsely disenfranchise voters. If lessons in democracy or neutral international observers or strong penalties for election-rigging might help, we need to make it happen. Cases of people being illegitimately turned away at the polls must be severely punished.

Political discourse is important. Recently, Presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich was barred from the Nevada Presidential Debate. He was first invited & scheduled to appear, then uninvited, supposedly to focus on the top three candidates. This decision was made by a broadcasting corporation, MSNBC (subsidiary of General Electric Corporation). Such corporate pre-screening of this Presidential candidate was wrong.

But the other three candidates / suckers, Clinton, Edwards and Obama, accepted the situation. Perhaps simply hoping to narrow the field, they let supposed personal benefits undermine the democratic process. This was wrong. The Las Vegas debate did not involve a need for great haste or a strict limit on debaters - the Democratic nomination is many months from now, and the Presidential election is more than ten months away. Each of these candidates has sufficient time to get their points across. What this teaches is that these three people and their advisory panels are willing to cut corners to gain power. In this case none properly represented democracy. So sad.

All involved may be unrepentant now, but what if their candidacy, products or services were ignored by the citizenry?